PICTURES: New Forest Boxing Day point-to-point 2021
HUNDREDS of spectators braved the wind and rain to roar home riders and their horses at the popular point-to-point races.
Held the day after Boxing Day this year, the annual event marks the end of the commoning year and saw riders of all ages take part.
A celebration of New Forest traditions and organised by the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, the finish of this year’s event was in the vicinity of Markway, near Burley.
"It was an ideal spot to have it this year as the horses can get up to a good gallop" one event goer told the A&T.
"There were easily 500 to 600 people there and most people parked at Wilverley and just walked across," she added. "It was a cracking event, despite it being wet and windy; Everybody was in good spirits and really enjoyed it, especially since we missed out on it last year [due to Covid-19]."
The races are a major highlight in the commoning calendar and involve racers navigating across open country, with the starting point kept secret until close to setting off.
This year there were seven point-to-point races over 11 categories, including veterans’ and children’s contests.
Bob Mansbridge, riding his Deepmoor Golden Virginia pony took the George Rockley Cup in taking the win in the first Veterans race, while the second contest – for the Tanner Cup – was won by Katie Macey on her Staghill Polar Flight.
The children’s race for entrants aged 10-13 on pure breed New Forest ponies, saw the Pulteney Cup claimed by Sonny Lovell – aboard Erika Dovey’s Warren Trail Layer.
The Beaulieu Road Cup for children aged 14-16 was claimed by Rown Cranton, who was riding Oakwood Jester.
Meanwhile, the Slipper Cup went to the winning young commoner on a pure breed New Forest pony, who was Amelia Mae-Long, while Erika Dovey won the Cree Cup by finishing first in the Ladies on Ponies, n/e 15.2 hands race.
Colin Moore got his hands on the Colthunters cup by being first to the finish in the Open Ponies n/e 15.2 hands contest, and Mark Adams won the heavyweight race in being the sole participant.
Among the more keenly contested jousts was the Novice Pure Breed race, which had the most runners and eventually saw two riders come home as joint winners of the Eileen Lockyer Cup – Steph Davies and Lauren Hawkes.
Finally, the Open Pure Breed race saw Anita Smith triumph.
As reported in the A&T, there had been fears this year’s event could have been affected by Forestry England (FE) placing restrictions on vehicle numbers as part of the event licence.
It imposed a maximum number of 250 vehicles at the finish – with more than 160 of those spots already taken up by the two passes given to the more than 80 riders who competed – but some had expressed concerns it was "ruining an age old Forest tradition".
Ahead of the event, James Young, chair of the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, stressed to the A&T.
"The society remains committed to working with both Natural England and FE to ensure that this traditional Forest highlight continues for the future."